On Election Day, referenda on the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington were successfully passed.
For Colorado, if the ballot measure is not blocked, marijuana potentially could be legalized on Jan. 5, the deadline to add the amendment to the state constitution by the governor. The amendment could allow adults, over 21 years of age, to possess an ounce of marijuana and six marijuana plants, but will not allow use in public.
For Washington, possession of an ounce can become legal on Dec. 6, similarly if not blocked.
Though marijuana prohibition legislation has been discussed amongst states nationally, the issue still involves the authorized approval of the federal government.
According to the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana’s categorization as a drug remains unchanged. The federal government’s stance also remains unaffected, but according to a recent official statement by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, “The Department of Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives.”
Currently, Colorado and Washington are awaiting federal response and review. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the ballot initiative, as does Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Meanwhile, the current administration acknowledges under federal law the legal use of medical marijuana by those with certain medical conditions in a total of 17 states.
The pot industry is expected to boom in both states. However, not only marijuana sellers and farmers are projected to increase revenue, but additionally construction firms, information software companies, accounting firms and other related businesses.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, has been a leading advocacy group within the marijuana movement since 1970.
Ramapo’s chapter of NORML used the phone bank of Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s Colorado Marijuana Legalization to call Colorado residents and inform them about Amendment 64, the historic statewide initiative to regulate marijuana.
“Ramapo College NORML, as well as New Jersey NORML, made almost 400 phone calls to likely supporters of marijuana legalization in Colorado before and during the past election,” said junior Steve McGee, treasurer of Ramapo NORML. “Despite the recent hurricane, we remained committed to making a difference across the nation about an issue many people do and should care about. The members of NORML are not only about reforming marijuana laws. We also encourage supporters to spread the word about this issue which, as we have seen in Colorado and Washington, is no longer taboo.”
Loretta Turner, senior and events coordinator chair of Ramapo NORML, said, “When I became a NORML activist two years ago, I was hopeful for marijuana legalization, but I was not entirely sure if it would happen anytime soon. When the time came to encourage my peers to take part in the Colorado phone banking for A64, I realized how many people were still blind to the progress of the marijuana movement. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to educate others on marijuana reform, because that is key in making history.”